Facebook's CEO has finally responded to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and laid out a three-step plan to remedy the incident.
The scandal, which revealed that a UK-based digital analytics firm had harvested data from more than 50 million Facebook users and then weaponised that data to influence people's opinions and political votes via possibly unethical marketing campaigns on social media, took the world by storm over the weekend. And, yet, Mark Zuckerberg laid low. He remained suspiciously quiet about the whole saga - until now.
Facebook's CEO and COO both responded
In a post, Zuckerberg said he is working to prevent similar abuses:
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
In another post, Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, mirrored the CEO’s comments: “We know that this was a major violation of peoples’ trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it,” she said. “We have a responsibility to protect your data."
They didn't quite give a full-throated apology, though Zuckerberg clearly accepted blame for the breach, which The New York Times, The Observer, and Channel 4 first reported. Zuckerberg was absent from Facebook's first official responses, in which it disputed any claims that the incident was a data "breach." It insisted people "knowingly" provided their information, and that "no systems were infiltrated'.
How Facebook will crack down on abuse
Restrict developers' data access
It was only a matter of time before Zuckerberg emerged. Now that he's done so, he's laid out a three-step plan to rebuilding user trust. The most important change is that Facebook will now remove developer access to your data if you haven’t used an app in three months. And it will reduce the data you give an app when you sign in - to only your name, profile photo, and email address, Zuckerberg said.
Facebook will perform investigations on all apps that had access to user data before it removed developers’ ability to harvest information from your friends’ profiles. It will also conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity and ban developers who don't agree to an audit.
New tool on news feed
Facebook wants to make sure you understand which apps you've allowed to access your data. So, in the next month, it will show everyone a revamped tool at the top of your news feed. It will highlight the apps you've used and offer an easy way to revoke their permissions to your data. Zuckerberg noted it already has a tool to do this in your privacy settings, which you can read all about from here.
However, going forward, the tool will be found on the news feed so everyone can easily see and access it. You can read more about Facebook's attempt to crack down on platform abuse in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal from here on the Facebook Newsroom hub.